Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pack getting ready for the Titans

With just a few days to go before the Pack heads to Tennessee for a meeting with the unbeaten Titans, what do we know?

For starters, the Packers are coming off their bye week and are as healthy as they've been since the start of the season. There are now actually so many players available at some positions that guys are able to catch their breaths during practice. DE Aaron Kampman said exactly that during a radio interview yesterday. For a defensive line that had been decimated by injury for the first half of the season to finally have enough players available to rotate and rest during, that's a luxury. Same in the defensive backfield. In both cases, as well as on offense, where players had to step in to take over for injured starters, the experience gained has added to the overall depth of the squad. Coaches have also been able to get a better read on exactly what the strengths and weaknesses are of each player. This can only be a good thing for the remainder of the season.

As for the Titans, we know that they are the last unbeaten team in the league. We know they are an extremely physical team, with a great two-headed running game and a veteran QB who, while not great, can manage a game and generally not make mistakes...unless pressured. Kerry Collins is a statue in the pocket and if the Pack can get to him they could reap the benefits. Collins is also 0-3 against the Pack.

We also know that the Packers beat the Colts by 20 points and that the Titans just beat the Colts by 10 on Monday night. The Titans are currently favored by 5-1/2 points over the Pack. Some boards, however, have the Pack beating the spread...although that doesn't mean they are predicting an outright win. In fact, while most final predictions have yet to be made, it would seem that few would predict a Packers victory.

Still, this is a tougher game to call than it might seem on the surface. The Packers were really able to get it together in the game against the Colts. Early reports of practice this week sound as if things are still clicking well. The Pack has now had a week to rest and get players healthy and back into the lineup. The catch to winning this game will be whether or not the Pack can match the physicality of the Titans. On the other hand, the Titans might have a let down after their hard-fought and emotional win over the Colts.

I believe the Packers will win this game. But a score prediction will have to wait until game day. So check back on Sunday morning for the final preview prediction.

I hope at least some of you had a chance to hear the replay of "The Instant Replay" game this last Sunday. It really brought back memories. As I noted in my Friday entry, I and some friends were actually at that game against Da Bearz. Listening to the radio call by former Packers' announcers Jim Irwin and the late, great Max McGee, made that game come alive again. I had forgotten some of the key moments. For example, that the Packers scored on their opening drive, leading us to think we were really going to stick it to Da Bearz. Also, I had forgotten that we were driving for the go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter, inside the redzone, and turned the ball over on an interception. Had forgotten, too, that we almost sealed a loss on the final drive via a fumble by QB Don Majkowski as he dropped back to pass on third-and-goal; fortunately the Pack recovered, setting up the historic fourth-and-goal play.

Anyway, it was great to hear it all again, and to know that I was among the cheering throng. It was the first time since 1984 that the Pack had beaten Da Bearz...and it was ohhhhhhhh sooooooo sweet...then...and now.

If you want to read Don Majkowski's take on this game, check this out.